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I encountered the following strange sentence on this page:

Traditionally, websites are less like "something the user has" and more like "somewhere the user visits". Typically, a website: does not have a presence on the user's device when the user is not accessing it, can only be accessed by the user opening the browser and navigating to the site, and is highly dependent on network connectivity.

We see that the two parts around the colon are not independent clauses.

What's more, I learned a grammar rule on when to not use colon here:

A colon should not separate a noun from its verb, a verb from its object or subject complement, a preposition from its object, or a subject from its predicate.

I thought the colon in this scenario should be a typo or a mistake. Am I right? Or that's a new use of colon?

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    It's a bad use of a colon, and looks like the writer has accidentally flattened a multiple-line bulleted list (there are plenty of these). An editing error. Mar 18 at 9:23
  • It is somewhat questionable. Seems like the author wanted to use bullet points.
    – TimR
    Mar 18 at 9:23
  • 1
    @TimR - the page is full of bulleted lists, each introduced by a line ending in a colon. I think this one was accidentally un-bulleted. Mar 18 at 9:40
  • Bullets avoid the issue of having to subordinate ideas in a sentence. Since a website does not reside on the user's device but must be accessed with a "web browser", its use is absolutely dependent upon internet connectivity.
    – TimR
    Mar 18 at 10:08

1 Answer 1

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The OP has correctly detected this wrong use of the colon.

The colon is usually only used if what is preceding it is an independent clause. This is irrespective of whether the passage is a normal paragraph or a bulleted list. With the colon removed, this passage is correctly punctuated:

Typically, a website [does not have a presence on the user's device when the user is not accessing it], [can only be accessed by the user opening the browser and navigating to the site], and [is highly dependent on network connectivity].

Note that we have a series of three items, as bracketed.

We can convert the passage into a bulleted list:

Typically, a website

  • does not have a presence on the user's device when the user is not accessing it
  • can only be accessed by the user opening the browser and navigating to the site
  • is highly dependent on network connectivity

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